Postcard from Switzerland
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“The odd thing about the young Jew was that although he seemed to be rich and cultivated, he had no friends in the town.”

V S Pritchett, Handsome Is as Handsome Does

The mountain adjusts its perruque of cloud
and glances in the lake’s ornate mirror.

The waiter brings coffee in a silver jug
and bows, neatly, to the notion of me.

Drinking tisane, the thin pretty woman
by the fountain loves her lapdog with scraps

of three languages. Something in the way
she lights her cigarette – held to her lips

in a stave of painted nails, the other
hand raising sidelong a sputtering match –

reminds me that I’m glad I am so scarcely
here, stirring my coffee slowly, gazing,

precise in a politesse that hides
the traveller’s absence from his presence.

'Arete is a journal as exquisite in its execution as in its intentions.'
John Updike

'Vous m’avez donné un grand plaisir … votre revue m’est très sympathique et proche.'
Milan Kundera